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x = -8
y = 12

I was told to calculate the rate of x according to y, and viceversa. So what I did was divide them.

x/y = -0.66
y/x = -1.5

My question is rather straightforward: Is this right?

I am just unsure if there can be negative rates. For instance, I though that since y is greater than x, y I would get a positive rate.

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what do you mean by "rate"? –  Aang Sep 25 '12 at 1:49
@Avatar: Sorry, actually I don't speak English natively (Spanish). My word is "tasa" and apparently it translates to "rate" or "valuation". It is usually applied to compare the impact of two things, as in "Comparing these two quakes, the rate is 1:3, meaning that one quake was three times greater than the other" –  Zol Tun Kul Sep 25 '12 at 1:54
If one of the two numbers is negative, then "rate" would surely be negative. –  Aang Sep 25 '12 at 2:02
Oh, so... plain division is alright? Well, that's.. That's good. Yeah. Thanks.. answered. –  Zol Tun Kul Sep 25 '12 at 2:04
@Avatar I think the English word you are looking for is ratio. –  Robert Miller Sep 25 '12 at 2:10
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

When you multiply by something negative, the product is on the other side of 0 from where you started. Similarly when you divide two numbers, the quotient is positive if both are positive or both are negative. Are you happy with the fact that the product of two negative numbers is positive?

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An interesting side note: When the housing market started to crash, a number of firms' programs failed because they assumed that housing prices would always go up. Believe it or not!!! –  marty cohen Sep 25 '12 at 6:04
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